During this time of the year, Israel is festooned with flags. They line our streets and decorate our buildings. They bring with them a festive and happy energy, signaling a time of celebration and a time of commemoration. There is a pervasive feeling of joy and pride at the site of our cities clothed in their best blue and white.
Image courtesy of Rafo
This year the national holidays, Yom Ha Shoa (Holocaust Memorial Day), Yom Ha Zikaron (Memorial Day for Soldiers and Victims of Terror) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day) will be felt more intensely, more acutely.
This past year has been one of the most difficult for Israel in recent history and has had a ripple effect, affecting diaspora communities across the globe. It seems that if Israel sneezes our diaspora communities catch a cold but in this case they also fall victim to the wrath and sometimes violent retribution of the anti-Israel activists.
Seventy years ago, as the death camps were liberated and the truth of the horrors of the Holocaust began to emerge, we swore a vow that NEVER AGAIN would we allow for the slaughter and persecution of the Jewish people. This Yom Hashoa, seventy years later, I cannot help but feel that we have failed our vow. We have failed in our promise to the victims and survivors that we would create a better, more tolerant and peaceful world for their children.
The Holocaust was started with words and over the last year we have seen an increase in the venom and vitriol around the world that has resulted in numerous deaths. Once again Jews are dying on European soil and once again we are bringing our brothers and sisters home for burial. The lessons of the Shoah have not been learned and now more than ever it is important to learn, to teach and to truly mean it when we say NEVER AGAIN. We cannot allow for heartbroken survivors to feel the fear and déjà vu that their grandchildren will experience the hatred they did. NEVER AGAIN means NEVER, EVER AGAIN!
Visual courtesy of Spotlighting
June 2014 started with rock star visits and start-up acquisitions. This all ended abruptly with the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah z”l, Gilad Shaer z”l and Naphtali Frankel z”l and the news that they had been brutally murdered. For eighteen days, a nation prayed and hoped and news of their deaths plunged us into mourning. Oh, Eyal, Gilad and Naphtali how we still weep for you! This was coupled with incessant rocket attacks from Gaza which prompted Israel to launch Operation Protective Edge in response.
I have been dreading this Yom Hazikaron. The pain of what we have lost over the past years is too much to bear and there is no end to the tears. Tears for the victims of terror in Israel, Belgium and France. Tears for our most precious 67 brave warriors, who paid the ultimate price for our safety and freedom. Tears for the bereaved families, the parents who have lost their sons, cut down in their prime in defense of their country. Tears for the babies who will never meet their fathers. Tears for the lovers who will never hold each other again. Tears, endless tears.
There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for their service to all of us. May their memories forever be blessed.
In a year that has witnessed brutal kidnappings and terror attacks, a conflagration with our neighbours an election and a tension in our relationship with our greatest ally, Israel has stood tall. We have endured the unimaginable and we have witnessed the best of humanity. The brave mothers who carried a grieving nation on their shoulders. The ordinary citizens who cooked, donated, opened up homes, schlepped and sprung into action to help our soldiers and each other. The citizens who comforted bereaved families and visited injured warriors and those who lined the streets to pay respects to our fallen at their funerals. These are everyday heroes and they make up the fabric of Israel. They are worth celebrating and this year, Yom Ha’atzmaut is in their honour.
“…And so they stand, the light on their faces, and the Lord,
alone passes among them, with tears in His eyes He kisses
their wounds, and He says in a trembling voice to the white
angels: “These are my sons, these are my sons.”
The Parade of The Fallen / Hayim Hefe
A few weeks ago, the IDF home Front Command conducted a drill in Modiin. We knew it would happen and we expected the siren. What some of us did not expect were our reactions to the noise. I am not embarrassed to say I froze – could not breath and had tears in my eyes. My friends had similar reactions – we forget the impact of PTSD on our lives. For many in the South, theirs is a generation that doesn’t know of a life without sirens and shelters. They are the shelter generation. This Yom Ha’atzmaut we honour the courage of our citizens who live under threat and yet continue to build and contribute as their expression of Zionism.
Chag Ha’atzmaut Sameach our dear Israel! Nobody deserves a big party with all the fireworks and celebration as much as you do. These days have no religious significance but the love, unity and solidarity they inspire is holy.Fly your flag high! Am Yisrael chai!